Tracing the tiger: population genetics provides valuable insights into the Aedes (Stegomyia) albopictus invasion of the Australasian region

Beebe, Nigel W., Ambrose, Luke, Hill, Lydia A., Davis, Joseph B., Hapgood, George, Cooper, Robert D., Russell, Richard C., Ritchie, Scott A., Reimer, Lisa J., Lobo, Neil F., Syfruddin, Din, and van den Hurk, Andrew F. (2013) Tracing the tiger: population genetics provides valuable insights into the Aedes (Stegomyia) albopictus invasion of the Australasian region. PLoS Neglected Tropical Disease, 7 (8). e2361. pp. 1-12.

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Abstract

Background: The range of the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus is expanding globally, raising the threat of emerging and re-emerging arbovirus transmission risks including dengue and chikungunya. Its detection in Papua New Guinea's (PNG) southern Fly River coastal region in 1988 and 1992 placed it 150 km from mainland Australia. However, it was not until 12 years later that it appeared on the Torres Strait Islands. We hypothesized that the extant PNG population expanded into the Torres Straits as an indirect effect of drought-proofing the southern Fly River coastal villages in response to El Nino-driven climate variability in the region (via the rollout of rainwater tanks and water storage containers).

Methodology/Principal Findings: Examination of the mosquito's mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I (COI) sequences and 13 novel nuclear microsatellites revealed evidence of substantial intermixing between PNG's southern Fly region and Torres Strait Island populations essentially compromising any island eradication attempts due to potential of reintroduction. However, two genetically distinct populations were identified in this region comprising the historically extant PNG populations and the exotic introduced population. Both COI sequence data and microsatellites showed the introduced population to have genetic affinities to populations from Timor Leste and Jakarta in the Indonesian region.

Conclusions/Significance: The Ae. albopictus invasion into the Australian region was not a range expansion out of PNG as suspected, but founded by other, genetically distinct population(s), with strong genetic affinities to populations sampled from the Indonesian region. We now suspect that the introduction of Ae. albopictus into the Australian region was driven by widespread illegal fishing activity originating from the Indonesian region during this period. Human sea traffic is apparently shuttling this mosquito between islands in the Torres Strait and the southern PNG mainland and this extensive movement may well compromise Ae. albopictus eradication attempts in this region.

Item ID: 29420
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1935-2735
Additional Information:

© 2013 Beebe et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: CSIRO Climate Change Adaptation Flagship, Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2013 02:38
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1108 Medical Microbiology > 110804 Medical Virology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920404 Disease Distribution and Transmission (incl. Surveillance and Response) @ 100%
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